At long last, the Blumenauer Bridge will be installed Saturday night

Posted by on October 8th, 2021 at 9:59 am

View from live camera as of 9:33 am Friday morning.

We’ve waited and waited and waited, and now the big day is finally here.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is all set to slide the span of the Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge across Sullivan’s Gulch and connect what is sure to become one of the most important bikeways in Portland.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the action, PBOT says the big move will happen overnight between Saturday and Sunday. A massive crane to help lift and place the 475-long, 24-foot wide span will be assembled in the middle of I-84 on Saturday. If you can’t make it to the site and don’t feel like waiting around for the historic moment, PBOT has set up a live camera on the southern landing for your viewing pleasure.

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A carfree crossing of I-84 at 7th Avenue has been a dream for many years. In 2015 we said it was one of the key bikeways that would help revitalize the Lloyd. A former staffer of The Street Trust once described it as “An MLK for people walking and biking,” a reference to nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, which, along with Grand, forms a major arterial couplet that is so car-centric most bike riders won’t go near it. The new bridge will solidify the value of 7th Avenue in the cycling network because it will now stretch about four miles from SE Division to the Alberta District. PBOT has plans to improve the bike lane on 7th south of I-84 and there’s already a plan in progress to make it better for bikes north of I-84.

It’s also worth noting that this bridge will be an emergency access route for first responders in the event of an emergency.

Please be aware that the closure of I-84 (which will be in place from Friday night to early Monday morning) might create strange and crowded traffic conditions on nearby streets.

If all goes according to plan, PBOT says we’ll be riding on this thing by summer of next year.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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hamiramani
Subscriber

This is a great moment of celebration and joy! Such an important connection; I plan to be at the bridge Saturday night.

Can you imagine the awesome Pedalpalooza rides that’ll take over this span next summer?

Thanks, PBOT et al.

maxD
Guest
maxD

The bridge is small but admittedly expensive and complex piece of creating “An MLK for people walking and biking.” Unfortunately, PBOT has been sitting ontheir hands and are no where near ready to create a safe and direct north/south route for people biking and walking. I hope you like waiting, because as soon as this bridge opens, you will get to continue to wait for an actual route to use. This bridge is very expensive, and it will be a very safe few hundred feet. Not very useful, though.

drs
Guest
drs

I disagree. I regularly bike on seventh in the areas to the north and south of this bridge. While PBOT could do a lot more with these streets to improve the biking experience, I think it’s unfair to call them unsafe.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I actually ride 7th fairly regularly, too, but I have been commuting daily for basically 30 years. I am definitely in the confident rider category. A bridge this significant should be (and was intended/promised to be) the centerpiece of a safe, all-ages, all-abilities north/south route across Portland. I have been tailgated and hoked at on 7th a few times between Tillamook and Skidmore and had plenty of uncomfortably close passes from people driving. I worked in the CEID from 2008 to 2021 and rode all over the district in all times of the day and night, commuting from North Portland. I am well aware of the many dangerous aspects of cycling through there and I would have loved to have a safe route. Currently, the lanes on 7th as really sketchy. They are so narrow there is a real threat of getting doored. A lot of commercial vehicles park along 7th, often right up to the intersections; people crossing 7th or turning on to 7th roll right into the bike lanes before stopping and often they don’t see on-coming bikes. I frequently take the lane on 7th between Ankeny and Clay to avoid doors and to be visible to cross traffic, but this route is not supposed to be for me. Or you. The Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge was supposed to be a part of a safe north south route on the east side. I can keep using MLK to cross I-84, I did it daily for 12 years, but that is not going to attract new riders. I am so sad and disappointed that PBOT continues to complete small, disconnected portions/segments of bike routes. The bridge is great, or will be great, but it is really nearly useless without the robust safe and direct north/south route. I honestly don’t think I would even divert from my route to use it without an improved route south- I will continue to use MLK to Ankeny to 6th or Water

drs
Guest
drs

I hear what you’re saying, and I agree that 7th will fall well short of the all ages and abilities standard, with little chance for improvement. But I still feel like it’s light years ahead of MLK and Grand from a safety and comfort perspective. The seventh Ave door zone bike lane is one of my favorite Central Eastside routes between division and Sandy.

Too bad PBOT caved in the ne 7th Greenway. That would have improved things on the northern end.

soren
Guest
soren

I am so sad and disappointed that PBOT continues to complete small, disconnected portions/segments of bike routes. The bridge is … nearly useless without the robust safe and direct north/south route.

The fact that facilities essential for safe/comfortable cycling aren’t being built to connect this bridge to existing cycling routes (e.g. no SE 7th NG connection and no NE 7th NG past Tillamook) says everything about its intended use. It’s also no coincidence that this “linear park” bridge will flank some of the highest-value undeveloped blocks in inner Portland (also an “opportunity zone”):

https://www.google.com/maps/place/NE+Multnomah+St+%26+NE+7th+Ave,+Portland,+OR+97232/@45.5318026,-122.6588892,404m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x5495a0b2fb36ddc1:0xd8fa20b9961e1f47!2sNE+Multnomah+St+%26+NE+7th+Ave,+Portland,+OR+97232!3b1!8m2!3d45.5314995!4d-122.658624!3m4!1s0x5495a0b2fb36ddc1:0xd8fa20b9961e1f47!8m2!3d45.5314995!4d-122.658624

How many kilometers of E Portland sidewalk or high-quality protected bike lane could have been built for $14,000,000…

rick
Guest
rick

Walking north and south on the eastside of Grand Ave directly by the I-84 eastbound on-ramp is not allowed considering the lack of a crosswalk but people still use it unlike the newish barriers on East 82nd by the I-84 overpass bridge. The East 7th Ave greenway does need work, though.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

Are you serious? Anyone who has ever tried to ride from NE to SE knows this is a complete game changer. I’ve been waiting for this for decades.

soren
Guest
soren

A complete game changer would have been the creation of a signalized protected bike facility on the NE 12th bridge deck because it 1) connects to multiple existing bike ways, 2) does not meander or require offset intersections, 3) has far less elevation gain, and 4) is already the most heavily used NE/SE cycling route in this area.

This Blumenauer bridge is a priority largely because it completes a gap in a real-estate development-spurred “linear park”.

Ed
Guest
Ed

When NE 12th bridge collapses in the earthquake I think points 1-4 won’t matter much.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

NE 12th dead ends immediately after the bridge at NE Lloyd Ave, immediately requiring someone traveling north to take a jog of at least three blocks. Going south the 11th/12th couplet is on the periphery of the Central Eastside, rather than the center of it, as 7th is.

soren
Guest
soren

A T-intersection with easy connections to the NE/SE 16th Greenway, the SE Ankeny Greenway, NE Irving bike lane, and the NE Multnomah pseudo-protected bike lane/Greenway connector.
Even though my daily commute takes me west of NE 7th on NE Multnomah, the Blumenauer Bridge would be grossly out of my way.

…is on the periphery of the Central Eastside, rather than the center of it, as 7th is

The bike lane on SE 7th curves into SE/NE 12th so this is currently the most direct route into the Lloyd district from the Central East side.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/SE+7th+Ave+%26+SE+Morrison+St,+Portland,+OR+97214/@45.5184157,-122.6587097,3a,75y,30.74h,94.52t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sJrEa0Ajeg1sa8cNBu2H-Rg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192!4m5!3m4!1s0x5495a0a0d1af4c1b:0xf832c83ce7aa7f7!8m2!3d45.5172346!4d-122.6586615

In fact, a minimally useful facility in the Central Eastside would require the construction of a new intersection treatment at SE 7th and Washington (see above), a new NG facility on SE 7th’s 6 disconnected blocks (see above), and the development a new NG segment on NE 7th North of Burnside.

I maintain that the Blumenauer Bridge was a *priority* only because it completes a linear park designed to spur real estate development/gentrification.

drs
Guest
drs

This will be great! I find myself biking from ne to se and vice versa all the time. Not having a good way to cross I-84 east of 12th Ave has been a frequent frustration. I occasionally take MLK or Grand, but the combination of streetcar tracks and aggressive, hostile people in cars makes these streets uncomfortable, if not downright dangerous to bike on. The Flanders bridge has already revolutionized biking in the northwest, in an area that already had several good options to cross over or under I-405. This bridge on 7th will have a positive impact on biking in the Lloyd district that will be immeasurable. It will be orders of magnitude more impactful than the Flanders bridge. This is akin to the tilikum crossing in terms of the importance of this link in the bike network. Happy day.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

The thing that makes me mad about this is that it was ready to be installed in July. One of the guys I share a shop with was riding by as they were getting ready for the lift this weekend and he asked the workers why it had been delayed so many months. They said that the Railroad (Union Pacific) had done everything in their power to block and delay the new bridge from going in. As rotten as that sounds I certainly believe it when it comes to the railroads.

rick
Guest
rick

Isn’t BNSF paying for their new bridge over the big lake in Sandpoint, Idaho? It will help Amtrak, but some locals didn’t want it.

squareman
Subscriber

From what I’ve understood and read elsewhere is that there was a rail line out elsewhere that made it such that they had to double the traffic on this line until they could repair it. That was the reason for the July delay.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

They had a fire down in California around that time that shutdown the main west coast line. And because the railroads have stopped investing in secondary routes, they had no alternative but to route trains inland to Utah, and then back into Portland via the gorge. Of course, the bridge was reopened in August, but UP had a big backlog of traffic.

Interestingly enough, the freeway did not reopen until this morning, but I heard a freight train come by at about 9pm last night. They didn’t waste any time.

Scott Kocher
Guest

This is helpful freeway mitigation infrastructure.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

any safe/legal viewpoints to watch it swing into place?

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

My god why would anybody bitch and moan like the comments below about a very expensive and useful piece of new cycling infrastructure? The same crowd did the same spiteful act about the Greeley protected lane when it was built. What do you think being such a bitter whiner accomplishes?

qqq
Guest
qqq

The non-positive comments all seem thoughtfully written, and generated some productive discussion. They were written by people who clearly are knowledgeable about the area. Calling the comments “bitching and moaning” by “bitter whiners” doesn’t accomplish anything.

Mark Allen Remy
Guest
Mark Allen Remy

This is great news, but I’m a little confused: If the bridge is (finally!) going in this weekend, why must we wait till “summer of next year” to use it?

drs
Guest
drs

Must be a bunch more assembly needed after the span is in place. Looking at photos of the bridge, I don’t think the concrete deck surface has been poured. Maybe to reduce the weight to make it easier to move into place?

Eli
Guest
Eli

It’s warm and dry out right now! It might rain tomorrow but I plan on checking it out Monday morning. Don’t buy the lies that cycling is just for summer. Right now is the best time – less worry about sunburn, not too hot, no smoke, and any rain you get caught in will usually pass and dry quickly.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

It’s cuz the supports are only temporary. They still have to build the permanent arches under the bridge to support it.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

All for its addition, but naming something paid for with public dollars after a sitting politician is gross.

Vans
Guest
Vans

This as well as many, many other things biking never would have gotten done without him, he’s been working on this for decades and gotten so much more accomplished along the way.

A lot of those “public dollars” would have and are being squandered on projects you would never approve of, this is a huge win for all.

rick
Guest
rick

Earl was on city council. He had one part in Portland’s streets:

https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2015/01/why_portlands_roads_are_so_bad.html